Having a Newfoundland

 

The Newfoundland dog is without question one of the most special breeds one could ever hope to know. The breed is known for its intelligence, compassion, benevolence and craving for relationship which is almost palpable. It exhibits  a centuries old instinct for lifesaving, stamina for draft work and enduring patience which could be envied by any human.

HOWEVER>>>>please pay STRICT attention here…..the Newfoundland dog is NOT…..I repeat NOT the best breed for everyone!!  While there are many exceptional attributes of this breed which has endeared it for centuries to many….there are ALSO countless incidents of neglect and abuse from which individuals of the breed have suffered…INHUMANELY suffered….at the hands of those who ranged from everything from the warped, pathetic and  dangerous….to the simply neglectful. Therefore, I make no apology for attempting to screen potential  homes in much the same fashion as that of an adoption agency!!  There are those who, with the very best of intentions, have become attracted to the breed and have an interest in acquiring one of these guys, without fully understanding what is involved. Therefore I do encourage prospective owners to research the breed as much as possible through reading as much as they can and visiting homes where Newfoundlands reside, as well as visiting breeders and seeing a number of these guys at once, in order to help determine if this is indeed the breed for you. To that end, the following is a list of the rather more negative aspects of having a Newfoundland dog share your life. (If you survive this section, read on !!)

  • Newfoundlands have a well earned reputation for drooling….that's that long, slimy wet stuff which can ooze from their mouths, sometimes at the most inopportune times and which, with a well timed shake of that massive head, can land unceremoniously on your chandelier, usually just as your boss and his ever immaculately clothed wife are about to arrive for dinner!!! Now, not all Newfoundlands drool…and some only a little….but one doesn't know which one will and which one won't until they are well into their teenage months, developmentally….so one must be prepared for that eventuality. I find that towels, strategically placed around the house can be one's best friend!

The males, as a rule tend to be the worst for this particular talent….but I have met a few girls that can surpass any male I've known in that regard!

  • These guys are big when full grown….but feel even bigger when they are growing as they are much more exuberant as puppies….and they are puppies for at least 18 months, in their heads as well as in terms of their growth pattern! They have an amazing talent for being able to clear the coffee table with the wagging tail while at the same time plunking that rather large head in your lap….for a snuggle…within seconds of having enjoyed a huge drink of water. Sometimes at least one of their seemingly 12 paws has also been in the water dish at the same time as the mouth…and it too, arrives on your lap…right next to that mouth!!

 

  • Newfoundlands shed…all year round…with the most significant amount coming out when they shed that burly inner coat usually in the spring of the year. If you are DILIGENT in giving your dog a thorough grooming once every week to 10 days, I think you will find that it is actually a fairly easy coat to keep. However, if you become neglectful in this regard, it will result in a smelly mess before long. If the natural oils in the Newfoundlands' coat become trapped in a matted coat, such that air can't get through to the skin to allow it to "breathe", the result is a very smelly animal (much like you might be if you were similarly left unwashed and ungroomed for a month!!).

 

  • This is a breed which CRAVES being with people….their sun rises and sets on you. So if your reason for wanting a large dog is to sit in your yard to scare away strangers….I beg of you, do NOT consider getting a Newfoundland! There are some breeds that tend to be more independently minded and don't have a problem with being left to their own devices much of the time….not so this breed. While they are content to snooze until you get back from work or running errands….when you are home, they must be in the house with you….or in the boat, or in the park, etc., etc.
  • As with most of the giant breeds, there are some health issues which can become a factor. Diligent breeders attempt, through attending seminars, constant research and communication with veterinary professionals and a variety of screening methods of breeding stock, to control for as many things as is possible. However, even with the best information and methods at our disposal, problems can still arise. Some faults have a genetic basis which can come through after generations of screened breeding stock….other problems are situations over which the breeder has no control. There should be a purchase contract offered by the breeder for each puppy which outlines to you what the breeder feels his/her responsibility is to you as well as what your responsibility entails. In any case, you must understand that such things can happen and your responsibility to this potential new addition to the family involves appropriate medical treatment if it ever becomes necessary. I would hope that any Homeport puppy owner would be in consistent contact with me anyway, such that the best case scenario for the puppy could be decided upon in the event that anything untoward was to occur. But, the larger sized breeds also incur the larger sized veterinary bills….so one must be prepared for that at any time during the dog's life, if it should become necessary.  Responsible ownership of a Newfoundland entails commitment….an emotional investment, an investment of your time…..and possibly of your money. You must ask yourself if you are indeed prepared for such a commitment.

 

  • This is a relatively expensive breed to breed, purchase and maintain. If a breeder is knowledgeable and diligent about doing the best possible job, the costs of planning breedings of best potential and seeing them through (ie: cost of parental certifications, stud servicing, researching lines, etc.) is hefty. Consequently the average price for a Newfoundland of quality is $2000.00. As dogs are living things, even purchasing a puppy from a reputable breeder in no way guarantees that nothing will ever go wrong with the dog, but it certainly goes a long way toward minimizing the chances of experiencing a serious problem, as well as ensures that the breeder chosen is one who will be there for you for advice and support, and to take the dog back if need be, for the life dog the dog. When purchasing from a reputable breeder, you are in fact purchasing that breeder’s best effort in reproducing good representatives of the breed as well as that breeder’s commitment to you and the puppy for its lifetime.

 

I've never seen a Newfoundland puppy that wasn't a cute, cuddly ball of fun that everyone loves! However, that ball of fun grows up. Now, some Newfoundlands grow "in proportion" and enable their owners to be justifiably proud of their "teenager" until adulthood. However, often after 3-4 months of age and until about 2 1/2 years for a female and 3 1/2 years for a male, your darling, cuddly ball of fun will grow into a gangly, floppy-eared, lopsided animal that far more closely resembles a giraffe-come-camel than it does anything else!!! One must  Have Faith…these are the "terrible teens" - especially between the ages of 10 months and two years.  It seems that different parts of the body are growing without consultation with any other part!!  But, so it is. Following the "growing up" stage is the "barreling out" stage when the Newfoundland finally fills out and acquires the breadth, substance and depth that are so characteristic of the breed. From then on, you have what you expected - and its worth waiting for.

As a Newfoundland takes a long time to fully mature physically, he is mentally as well, a puppy at heart for some time. Especially so for the males, puppies are in general quite exuberant and don't realize their own strength. Therefore, discipline tempered with much Love is in order from three months of age onward.  As soon as the "house rules"  are understood and obeyed, life for everyone will be a far greater pleasure, so the training should begin as soon as the puppy arrives.

Because a Newfoundland's growth and metabolism is much slower than that of a smaller breed, one must be very careful of his feeding and environment, especially during the critical growth stages (until 18 months of age). As you are no doubt aware is the case with any living thing, any number of health problems may arise at some point in the dog's life. Some are preventable, others are genetically related and still others are "flukes of nature". In any case, I have been fortunate in that during my years of involvement with breeding, minimal problems have been experienced. A number of things have been learned over the years though which I attempt to pass on via an information pack and through conversation. However, it is very difficult to guarantee against the unknown.

One of the most significant problems in the breed is that of hip dysplasia. It is a condition that has been prevalent in large breeds for as long as we can tell, although measures have been taken through conscientious breeding programs to minimize and hopefully eventually, eradicate it. It can be present in varying degrees ranging from minimal, in which case without testing by x-ray for it one would never know it was present - to debilitating. Every case is different and I don't pretend to be able to foretell the future or have an answer for every "what if…".  I can say that I have personally seen very few cases where a dog showed any sign of the problem.  I am very conscious indeed of it though, as if a dog exhibits the condition as determined by x-ray, it is not advisable to use it for breeding. All Homeport breeding stock is tested by way of x-ray and Penn-Hip before a decision to breed is made. Other conditions felt to be inherent in the breed are certain heart abnormalities and elbow conditions. The exact nature of heritability of some such conditions is still being researched. However, Homeport dogs are routinely screened for such conditions.

Other potential medical horrors which may occur in all the large and giant breeds are such things as bloat, cancer, auto-immune diseases, etc. In some cases immediate veterinary treatment (as in the case of bloat / stomach torsion) can resolve the problem. In cases such as cancer and auto immune disease, as with the treatment for people with such disease, prognosis varies.

Because the Newfoundland's skeletal structure grows more rapidly than the musculature, the most critical time during which environmental influences may affect the puppy's joint (particularly hips and elbows) development is up until 18 months of age. Toward the end of that time, the muscle mass surrounding the acetabulum develops to the point where it provides natural support for the hip structure. It is therefore  extremely important that during the first 18 months of the puppy's life that he NOT be allowed to become overweight, jump around on his hind legs, exercise any more than is reasonable or go up and down stairs regularly. Such development is in line with the puppy's natural development in which the "barreling out" or building up of significant muscle mass doesn't occur until after about two years of age.

In addition, it is crucial that an optimal nutritional and health regimen is followed, which includes such things as feeding a low protein puppy food and regular health checks by a veterinarian.

More in the way of specifics will be outlined in a "puppy pack" which arrives with Homeport puppies. However, in general let me say that I would like to keep in touch with new owners regarding their new friend's progress and implore them to let me know of any queries, questions concerns or developments which they might like to discuss. Prospective homes are purchasing first and foremost a "companion" Newfoundland from this kennel and I wish to ensure that they get exactly that, in its entirety as much as it is in my power to provide.